A mainstay in the heart of downtown since 1993, locals have been going nuts for the popular Walnut Avenue Café. Mike Bobadilla originally started there as the general manager in 2001. He was raised in the Sierra Nevada foothills where his parents owned a restaurant.
He became an owner in 2014, when he and Hector De La Torre, an O.G. cook who had been with the business for over 25 years, purchased the cafe.
The menu is full of classic breakfast and lunch items, elevated comfort food made from scratch. Breakfast favorites include traditional ham and eggs benedict, as well as outside-the-box options like shrimp/tomato and blackened ahi. The huevos rancheros con carnitas is another morning best-seller, and 9-grain pancakes, classic Belgian waffles and French toast with walnuts and grilled bananas bring a sweeter touch.
Popular lunch picks include sandwiches like the Mediterranean Chicken, Café Cristo and Hector’s specialty Shrimp Melt. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8am-3pm (until 4pm Sat/Sun).
Tell me more about the renovations?
MIKE BOBADILLA: We recently closed for a few weeks to refresh both our dining room and kitchen. We’ve been here for a while, so we repainted the dining room, got all new chairs and barstools, and new quartz countertops. We also added new fixtures throughout the dining room and updated the bathrooms as well. And in the kitchen, we got a new stove and griddle and really modernized the space, which has improved our cooks’ ability to put out great food.
What does being a part of the downtown culture mean to you?
MB: We love our downtown location and being part of the community here. We are appreciative of the local support which helped us get through the pandemic. And in return, we want to continue to keep providing a comfortable place for locals and students to have a good meal at a good price. We also look forward to soon completing our permanent outdoor patio so that our guests can enjoy the great Santa Cruz weather.
106 Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz, 831-457-2307; walnutavenuecafe.com